Auto review: 2017 Lincoln Continental

Looking for an elegant coach to whisk you from your nuptials to your honeymoon destination? You could do worse than slipping into the spacious, refined confines of the all-new 2017 Lincoln Continental.

Once the choice of kings and presidents, Lincoln’s Continental — first built in 1939 as a personal luxury prototype for Edsel Ford — got the ax in 2002, an ignominious end to a distinctively American marque. But now, after a 15-year hiatus, the Continental is back in Lincoln’s stable. And it’s got something to say.

Dedicated to the proposition that all luxury/performance sedans aren’t created equal, this 10th-generation Continental declares that the luxury side of the equation is just as important as performance. Aiming squarely at luxury buyers who don’t care about setting speed records at Germany’s Nürburgring track, the Continental boasts posh appointments, thronelike seating, an ethereally smooth ride and cosseting room to spare for four real-world grown-ups who want to travel in style.

That’s not to say that performance gets short shrift — quite the contrary. Buyers may choose from three transverse-mounted V6 engines: the base 3.7-liter with 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, or the 2.7-liter twin-turbo with 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. (Both engines send power to the front wheels, or to the available all-wheel drive, via an efficient six-speed transmission.)

The power plant of choice, however, is the Lincoln-exclusive 3.0-liter twin-turbo, delivering 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque with standard all-wheel drive and dynamic torque vectoring to steady even the swoopiest corners without mushiness or drama.

“Dignified” is a good adjective for all that power hitting the pavement. Acceleration in the nearly 17-foot-long, 4,200-pound Continental is swift rather than neck-snapping — 0-60 mph in a highly respectable 5.5 seconds. The exhaust note sounds soulful rather than blustery, and the continuously controlled damping suspension delivers assured handling with zero body roll — impressive for such a large vehicle. Adaptive electric steering brings a touch of sportiness to the proceedings without feeling twitchy.

“Dignified” also suits the Continental’s looks, which are decidedly low-key when compared to competitors whose body lines zig and zag all over the place — subtlety is paramount here. The side mirrors perch on thin silver-polished platforms and are integrated with the equally thin, touch-sensitive door handles, which effortlessly pop the doors open and are unlike anything on any vehicle today. Nice touch, Continental (pun intended).

But honestly, inside is really where it’s at. Available “Perfect Position Seats” offer 30 adjustment parameters up and down, right, left and underneath, along with massage options, to assure that driver and passenger corporeal bits are supported in the manner to which they’d like to be accustomed.

In fact, just sitting in the driveway, fiddling with all the seat adjustments while cranking the Revel audio system (choice of 13 or 19 speakers framed with aluminum grilles) would make for a fun afternoon. Or, as Matthew McConaughey might say in those expensive-looking new Continental TV ads shot in Iceland, “Awright, awright, awriiiight.”

You’ll spend a second hunting for the dash-mounted, push-button transmission selector, a delightfully unnecessary retro touch of coolness. Same with the push-button door opener (backed by a mechanical latch for safety). Fit and finish of the high-quality Scottish “Bridge of Weir” leathers and various woodgrain choices are uniformly opulent, and the enormous panoramic sunroof is a real plus on pretty days. All in all, it’s a peaceful oasis of rolling tranquility.

Pricing is tiered, based on trim level and available options:

Premiere at $44,720

Select at $47,675

Reserve at $54,075

Black Label at $63,075 (also features choice of three designer themes: Rhapsody, Chalet and Thoroughbred)

Options, of course, raise the prices. A fully loaded Reserve, for example, would come in at about $76,000, while a Black Label, loaded with every possible option known to Lincoln, could reach $80,700.

There’s a lot to like with the new Continental reboot, and customers agree: It’s just come to the market and has already sold more than 5,200 in the U.S. as of Dec. 31, which is more than respectable. Sales are also expected to skyrocket in overseas markets, especially China, where the Lincoln marque enjoys huge success. Ironic that an American car named after a beloved president would sell well in a communist country? Sure! Why not?


Freelancer Brian Melton inherited his love of cars from his mom: She drove T-Birds, Jaguars and a much-loved silver Mercedes 450SL with an unrepentant lead foot.


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